controversial | 

€9m Scientology-linked drug treatment centre in Meath yet to open its doors

A spokeswoman said there is a caretaker living at the facility but there is no date for when it will open.

Meath TD Peadar Tóibín and local people protest outside the site for the Narconon rehab centre linked to scientology

Ali BrackenSunday Independent

A €9m residential drug rehabilitation centre linked to the controversial Church of Scientology in Co Meath has yet to open its doors.

Last November the Court of Appeal upheld a decision of the High Court that An Bord Pleanála was incorrect in deciding the facility at Ballivor, Co Meath, required planning permission.

This gave Narconon Trust, the rehab centre linked to the controversial church, the go-ahead to proceed with its plans for the site, originally earmarked as a nursing home.

Despite this, almost a year later, it remains unopened.

When contacted, a spokeswoman for Narconon confirmed: “Planning is moving forward to open the facility, with the recent Covid pandemic period causing delays to our plans. We are fully intent on helping people overcome and recover from addiction, and our planning is again full steam ahead.”

The spokeswoman said there is a caretaker living at the facility but there is no date for when it will open.​

The Ballivor rehab centre is intended to be the first Narconon facility in Ireland, though the Church of Scientology already has a community centre in the Dublin suburb of Firhouse as well as headquarters in Merrion Square.

Aontú leader and Meath TD Peadar Tóibín, who was involved in protests opposing the opening of the centre, said he questioned whether the facility will ever open its doors.

“It is very clear that the business model for the Church of Scientology in Ballivor is not working. That is a very good thing for the community in Ballivor, who have never supported it,” he said.

The TD was critical of the fact all private drug and alcohol rehabs in Ireland are entirely unregulated. “Right now, anyone can set up a private rehab clinic, using any regime and they are not subject to any HSE inspections. That needs to change immediately,” he said.

The site was acquired in 2016 by Narconon Trust, registered in Sussex, England, which is linked to the Church of Scientology and supports drug rehabilitation charities as part of its mission.

The trust was founded by Massimo Angius, a trustee and director of the Church of Scientology in England for more than 20 years.

It has about 40 drug rehab facilities around the world and has spent some €9m to date on purchasing and constructing the Ballivor facility.

It bought the site after getting a declaration from Meath County Council in 2016 that the proposed change of use from a nursing home to residential drug rehabilitation facility is exempted development.

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